Russian State Media Claims to Discover Militarized Ukrainian Witches

The Kremlin owned news organization RIA Novosti is claiming that its journalists discovered signs of black magic in a village in east Ukraine. The journalists claimed the evidence of magick was found in what it claimed was the headquarters of a Ukrainian military unit. “A satanic seal was found on its wall, evoking associations with Hollywood films about evil spirits,” RIA said in its report.

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The graffiti on the wall looks like a sigil—a kind of magickal seal used for various purposes by practitioners. It’s a circle with various squiggles in the middle and the word “zein” written below it. RIA shared photos of the sigil as well as a walk through of the house on its Telegram channel.

According to Ekatrina Dais, a Russian culturologist RIA spoke with, the sigil is a magickal symbol. “What it means is difficult to say for sure, in it you can see both the inverted sign of anarchy, and part of the ‘SS’; sign, the rune zig, it is clearly visible in the extreme left sector of the circle, and the Hebrew letter ‘zain’ written in German, meaning a sword or weapon,” Dais told RIA.

According to RIA, Ukrainian soldiers gathered in this place to consecrate weapons with blood magick. “Among the headquarters instructions, they found a press release from the Ukrainian security forces with a story about losses in the Donbass,” the story said, according to a translation provided by Google. “There are lines of blood on the document, although there are no such traces anywhere else.”

The video walkthrough of the location showed off the sigil and various bits of debris in the building. The camera panned over dust covered furniture, several books, and official looking documents. At the end it focuses on a piece of paper in a laminated holder that appears to be smeared with red liquid. This could be blood. It could also be rust or any number of other red tinted goos.

The RIA journalists feeling the need to clutch pearls over graffiti and debris left behind in a warzone calls to mind the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and ‘90s. In the U.S. a wave of fear about things like Dungeons and Dragons, heavy metal music, and daycare centers caused a wave of fear and panic. People saw demons and Satan’s hand in everything. To this day, none of the thousands of accusations of Satanic ritual abuse or Satanic cults are substantiated.

This story out of Russia is remarkably similar to American Satanic Panic stories. There’s innocuous graffiti, the hint of something nefarious, and what appears to be blood. The spray painted symbol on the wall looks vaguely occultic, but could mean anything. The blood stains might be real, but they were discovered in a warzone and the article itself admits they were only present in one location.

It’s hard to parse the truth of the RIA story. Getting good information out of a warzone is hard at the best of times and it’s even more difficult when dealing with state sources with a reputation for lies and mythmaking. The witchcraft story is another in a long line of stories from Russia that attempt to frame Ukrainians as frightening fascists that must be defeated. It stands in stark contrast to stories from areas Ukraine has liberated from Russia, where journalists and authorities have discovered mass graves and evidence of war crimes inflicted by the Russian military.